A great popular work on the perspectives of anti-feminist women. Of course, to fully verify many of the claims of the book (like most popular books) f...moreA great popular work on the perspectives of anti-feminist women. Of course, to fully verify many of the claims of the book (like most popular books) following the provided references back to the original, usually academic, resources is necessary.
Positives: Phyllis Schlafly has much personal experience working on opposition to the ERA amendment and arguing against the second wave feminism that started around the 1960s. If there's anybody to give an anti-feminist viewpoint, it's her. Also, the addition of a second author, her niece, Suzanne Venker, gives this work fresh perspective of a "modern" conservative woman. These two women have combined both of their voices, fairly seamlessly, to present the reader with a re-interpretation of feminist history from the 1940s to the present. For conservative women, many of these arguments will probably resonate with their lived experience. For liberal or feminist women, these authors present numerous challenges as well as a few mishaps that have tarnished the women's movement's image (and subsequently the term feminist - please note that feminist and women's movement are not interchangeable although they are related as feminism is an ideology and a women's movement is just that, a social movement led by women on behalf of women). These challenges presented by the authors have not been addressed by many feminists for fear that they will be a slippery slope to sexism and discrimination.
Cons: This work is not given context to larger historical fact. While focusing on the state of U.S. feminism from around the 1940s to the present is not a detriment to the work, the authors do not acknowledge that, historically, women have been denied full citizenship and representation under the law all over the world. In addition, different groups of women were given access to citizenship and representation that stemmed directly from larger cultural influences, such as racism and able-ism. Many laws that give women the right to marry whom they wish were only uniform across the country in the past 50 years. Therefore, I think it is hard to argue that the nation is 100% past issues that truly did oppress individuals based on gender, race and ability.
As one of the so-called "fringe" third-wave feminists that these authors deride and also as a student who will be pursing a Ph.D. in the future (on the topic of anti-feminism and conservative feminisms of all things), I found their assessment of the value of educating women in higher education to be offensive. While the authors are not against a general college education, they specifically state that women should not think of pursuing advanced degrees if they also want to have children. One part of the book even goes so far to hypothesize that the men highly-educated women marry will be resentful and unappreciative of a wife's potential debts from her education, especially if she decides she would like to stay at home while he works. Most college graduates today, male or female, have accrued student loan debt and there are also plenty of stories of women working to fund their male partner's education. There is also bit of hypocrisy here as Schlafly herself has multiple advanced degrees (M.A. in political science from Harvard and a J.D. from Washington University) while having raised six children.
And as a truly biased, subjective, personal-experience con: I have never met a single mother like the one they describe in their book. The single mothers I know do not want to be dependent on the government. In fact, they are some of the hardest-working, maternal, full-time parents I have ever met! If anything, they remind me that my life is not all that hard and that you CAN accomplish your life goals while still being an involved parent. When I do have children I hope that I am just as dedicated to being there for my children while balancing my desires to use my over-educated brain. (less)
I'm definitely between three and four stars on this one. For a book that has mostly the Bible as it's definitive source for relationships, Morgan actu...moreI'm definitely between three and four stars on this one. For a book that has mostly the Bible as it's definitive source for relationships, Morgan actually brings in many since-proven conflict resolution strategies and psychological principles into the book. While I definitely do not agree with the idea of wifely submission that is promoted (and promoted not very explicitly either), I felt that Morgan was really calling for women to be more self-confident, embrace their sexuality, and to promote loving relationships within the family. I have no problem with Christian, stay at home moms deciding to get a bit more adventurous!
Other areas of contention with the book was the portion on children and homosexuality being caused by the mother, this has been proven to be untrue but at the time it was a huge concern that mothers were the source for male children's homosexual behavior. I found it pretty interesting that she could talk about the dangers of this and then on the next page start to proclaim how all children should be accepted as they are so that they do not run away from home or turn to sex or drugs. I got the sense that she did not think this applied to homosexual children and that there was no paradox inherent in that. I actually laughed a bit at that. Also, the whole "spare the rod, spoil the child" rhetoric has also been proven to be harmful to children's attachment to parents, but that wasn't known at the time.
Other portions of the book definitely highlighted the concept of non-violent communication (using I statements, not you statements, etc.). In this way, I think Morgan was ahead of the times in the way she approached communicating honest feelings in a non-violent manner.
Overall, there are a few golden ideas in this book if you can get over some of the gag-factor of some of the chapters. I read this book as it is cited in a lot of anti-feminist literature and I have to say that I didn't find what was so contentious about it. Yes, Morgan believes that stay-at-home parenting is best, but intensive parenting and having a constant attachment with a parent are proven to be good for children. Yes, Morgan centers her life around making her husband happy so he can go to work and earn money, but that's the life she has chosen. Yes, she says dress up in costumes and have a lot of sex, but really what's so bad about that? Yes, Morgan believes in God and is raising her children to have a life-view centered on faith, but a lot of people also do this. This doesn't make her anti-feminist. These were her choices in the type of relationship dynamic that she chose and she improved her life and made herself and her family happier. There's nothing inherently wrong in that. (less)
Great thorough analysis of third wave feminism's branches of feminist-spirituality and the radical menstruation movement. I found the feminist history...moreGreat thorough analysis of third wave feminism's branches of feminist-spirituality and the radical menstruation movement. I found the feminist history portion to be particularly enlightening. If there were more information available about the dangers of traditional femcare to back up claims by both groups, that would be wonderful. Unfortunately, most of the data either doesn't exist or is plagued by conflict of interest.
I didn't appreciate some of the tone used when talking about the feminist-spiritualists. The author doesn't hide that she is on the side of the radical menstruation movement, but I did feel that she didn't respect the feminist-spiritualists as much as some of the other women she talked to due to the fact that they fall on the side of gender difference theory and also tend to be white and middle-class.
A great read on the topic of menstruation activist movements. I will certainly use much of this material in my own research on the enactment of biblical purity laws in modernity. (less)
I really wanted to like this book more. While I feel as if I now understand many of the various aspects of "opting out" more clearly, this book took m...moreI really wanted to like this book more. While I feel as if I now understand many of the various aspects of "opting out" more clearly, this book took me over a year to finish. I read the first half of the book very quickly as it made me think a lot about the choices that my own mother had to make with me and my brother when we were young but after establishing the predominant characters and the premise that there aren't that many choices available, the writing became really repetitive. There were many areas of the book where I found myself thinking, "You've already covered that in three different ways, can we move on already?" I shelved this book for a long time still unfinished. Great information but I wish a lot of the material had been condensed. (less)
A really great anthology of research and essays on third wave feminism. The grouping of the various essays/articles is well laid out and attempts to i...moreA really great anthology of research and essays on third wave feminism. The grouping of the various essays/articles is well laid out and attempts to incorporate multiple viewpoints -- in keeping with the feminist value of intersectionality. While I enjoyed some articles more than others, I found that I would definitely use a few of these pieces in my own work. If you're needing a brief overview of the material or subject matter, the introduction is especially useful as it is a well articulated "definition" of third wave feminism and gives an overview of complications that are elaborated on in the articles. (less)